Monday, April 6, 2015

(Anti)Plan of Attack

Throughout the winter season I became frustrated with my lack of riding time. As spring drew closer, I started fantasizing about never getting off of a bicycle. In practicality, I understood that wasn't a possibility. There are aspects of life outside of riding that require time every day, not to mention the fact that I'd spent at least a couple of months nowhere close to touching a bicycle through the coldest part of the winter season.

An awareness that my muscles had lost all but the most minimal strength became a quick realization. How on earth would I continuously ride a bicycle for any length of time when traveling a couple of miles into town seemed to find me just on the brink of muscle failure? To my complete dismay, this is only a slight amplification of the truth.

As I continued to think on all of this and ride only occasionally, the Errandonnee event arrived. It was a perfect opportunity to continue to ride short distances and to test any sort of theories about riding a bike forever. Forever is a long time though, and because I am extremely cranky without sleep, I continued to adapt my plan for continuous riding into thoughts that seemed more reasonable.

I had also made claims regarding riding every street within my home community, and had not announced but had been plotting a way to ride at least a 20 mi/32 km continuous ride for 30 straight days. Perhaps not the loftiest of goals, but it seemed a good way to warm into the season. I had waffled back and forth between that idea and doing 6 centuries over the course of 30 days, but I figured my muscles hadn't seen the work they should have over winter, so it was better to stick with the daily, shorter distance rides. Though it would tax my mental fortitude, it made more sense strength- and endurance- wise for the time being.

My ability to ride daily was tested with just short distances around town for about a week and a half. This activity didn't bother me a bit, so it seemed completely reasonable that I should, in all likelihood, be able to complete 30, 20-mile days in a row.

Soon, April arrived and I was reminded that it is the official month when lots of people on bicycles commit to 30-days of riding. This should have made my personal commitment that much easier, but for some reason, it did not. Instead, I have found myself feeling the mental strain of trying to create a schedule to follow.

There is a very real possibility that you, dearest reader, are one of many people who prefer to have a schedule or a plan of action, but there's something about making a formal plan that causes everything to go awry.

Instead of looking forward to riding, it is easier to put off starting. As soon as I believe I have a plan of attack, I start to second guess it - which is precisely why I prefer not to plan things at all. If I have no time to think about it, there's really no reason to put off a task. Plus, I find that I do much better when I just wake up on any non-specific day and do something that seems ridiculous. Ludicrous behavior and planning just don't seem to mix well in my experience.

The irony of it all is that I have been riding nearly every day for a couple of months now, but as soon as a label or idea is put to the miles pedaled it becomes a kind of chore or I lose interest in what is supposed to be the main focus. When I feel some level of pressure to commit to a particular "thing" it all seems to come unraveled.

As I attempted to begin the 30, 20-mile days of riding, it didn't last long. It was almost as though putting a specific to my pedaling jinxed the entire process. It isn't that I could not or cannot start again, but I've come to the conclusion that any time I try to plan something, it never seems to quite go well.

What is most interesting is that spring seems to bring out in me this compulsion to make goals and plans for the "riding season." I cannot seem to help myself, despite my knowledge that the planning itself is often the demise of the entire goal. I understand that setting goals, making plans, and even sharing all of it to keep myself accountable are all more likely to result in a positive outcome, but it rarely seems to work in my favor.

In my experience, it almost seems to come together when I have a loose idea with no specific time frame and I simply happen to accomplish the goal without even truly realizing what has happened. I almost view it as a way of fooling myself into believing I'm not going to complete a given activity, but then working toward it all along.

I do realize how crazy this must sound. I also understand that on some subconscious level, I must comprehend that it is a form of goal setting, but my brain and body seek out ways to keep the process fun because I know how bored I can get with routine (which is a reality of working toward any goal - routine/repetition is necessary).

Feasibly I cannot ride continuously, forever on a bicycle, but the idea of it is still something that captures a thought in my mind every now and again. Maybe I will complete riding every street in my city, I'll ride 30 days of 20-miles, end up doing the 6 centuries in 30 days instead, or it may be something else entirely. For me, not really knowing (even if the idea is there) is part of the enjoyment.

Perhaps one future spring season will arrive and I will come to grips with the idea that I simply have a different way of going about goal-setting. Until then, I'll likely continue to convince myself that I can set goals and follow logical steps to get to an end point. But, then again, maybe the self-mind games are half the fun?

14 comments:

  1. I enjoy your blog posts, but you could say what you have to say better if you would edit out the majority of your own words -- like ninety percent cuts. I'm just telling you what Maxwell Perkins would tell you, or what Ernest Hemingway's old newspaper editor would tell you.

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    1. I could indeed shorten things... but then I wouldn't be me. :O)

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    2. Dude, it's your blog, write whatever the heck you want, and at whatever length you want to write! That's what a blog is for! Rock on with your writing self.

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    3. :O) I seem to do that, don't I? Occasionally I manage to get a short post out - but then I almost always feel as though I could've said more.

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  2. I think she was being deliberately verbose in this post. The idea was to get us to chase an idea that had been rattling around inside her head so that we could feel what the planning/anti-planning plan/not-a-plan process is like for GE. Not sure I got that just right, but that was how I approached it.

    Writing considerations aside, this post cracked me up. The more I read this blog, the more I think you might be my bizzaro world mirror image. I love planning, and I swear I'm not that far off from Rain Man in terms of enjoying routine! I sort of trick myself into spontaneity the way you trick yourself into planning. It's all good.

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    1. Oh, there is an image for me of you! Now I'm going to picture you as a Rain Man version of Monica Geller! {giggle}

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    2. That is (sadly) not far off the mark!

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  3. I'm with BOTH Anonymous and Kendra on this one. I love this blog and your writing, G.E., but this post drove me nuts! ;)

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    1. For the next one, I'll try to steer you back to sanity, but I make no promises. :O)

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  4. In the words of John Lydgate: You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time.

    For the record and as stated in the past, I will point out that this is a blog and should be considered opinion - and in the case of this specific blog, often rambling and/or circular (because it's how I process things, and I often write in a way that mirrors my personal thought and/or speech patterns).

    The blog should not be considered a source of thoroughly fact-checked reporting (though I don’t try to purposefully steer anyone toward untruths).

    It is not a space in which I am able to always provide both delineation of thought and economy of language, nor should I need to censor or edit my words as it is merely a place for me to offer ideas, not an English term paper, doctoral thesis, or a piece of literature. I am not a novelist, poet, or journalist, nor am I trained as such. I did start out college as an English major, but quickly realized it wasn’t the right place for me.

    I make lots of typos. Most are actual typing mistakes while others are simply due to lack of careful checking prior to hitting “publish.”

    I do my best not to be offensive to others, but I’m probably not always successful in this endeavor.

    I try to be considerate at all times. When people leave comments, I respond (I really do enjoy our conversations :O) ). When someone sends me an email because s/he would rather not broadcast his/her question or wants to have a more detailed chat, I try to reply in a timely and thoughtful manner. Sometimes, I research additional information or possible resources for someone looking for assistance. I might be wordy, but I truly do want to help people looking for answers.

    I am not an aspiring writer and I don’t have delusions of ever being professionally published anywhere at any point in time. My days are spent painting, sometimes forming clay, attempting to weld metal or build furniture, thinking (far too much), riding a bicycle (almost never often enough), walking/running dogs, kickboxing, making meals, and sometimes baking occasional treats for those close to me.

    My point is that I am human and not being paid to write. I share ideas or thoughts here because I enjoy it and because I like to have dialogue with others, specifically about bicycles. Just as I appreciate all of you, your comments, and/or critique.

    For those wishing to read more succinct posts, I appreciate your desire, but can nearly guarantee it just won’t happen in this space.

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    1. You beat me to the punch. Well said. Anonymous blog posters can take their red markers elsewhere. If you want Hemingway, read a book.

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  5. I love your writing GE. Yes, you often ramble, but it mirrors your thoughts, which I like very much. we all read different blogs for different reasons. I read yours because you are human with all the human emotions, failings, inspirations (I loved that recent post), wavering, and you love bicycles as much as I do. None of us are perfect but we have the opportunity to express ourselves through blogs.

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    1. Thanks, Annie. I think being human is one thing that really does bind us - well, that and bicycles, of course! :O)

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Word verification is on, but I've turned off the moderation portion in an attempt to make it easier for you to know that your comment has indeed made it through. We'll see how this goes, but I'm hopeful that this will help out and I'll try my best to weed through and remove spammers comments. Additionally, I recommend copying comments before hitting publish as the "blogger comment eater" seems to continue his snacking.